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Praying for Emily

The Faith, Science, and Miracles that Saved Our Daughter

Discover the incredible true story of Emily Whitehead, the first child to receive CAR-T cell therapy for leukemia, and learn how faith and science guided her family in the fight for her life.

When their five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, Tom and Kari Whitehead’s world was shattered. They vowed to do whatever it took to help their daughter. As they made decisions about how to best treat her, Tom found his faith coming to him in “whispers,” guiding his decisions and keeping his hope alive, while Kari placed great faith in science and the doctors surrounding her little girl. However, as Emily’s condition continued to worsen, they both prayed for a miracle.

Then, their miracle arrived, in the form of an experimental treatment called CAR-T cell therapy that, against all odds, saved Emily’s life. Because of Emily’s miraculous recovery, this treatment is now used widely to treat cancer. The treatment has saved hundreds of lives and promises to help thousands more. For all the acclaim and attention this important new approach to treating cancer has received, few know the full story of all it took to make this miracle happen.

In Praying for Emily, the Whiteheads share their story, recounting the belief, resilience, and support that got them through the most difficult time of their lives.

Book Reviews


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“An incredible, beautifully written chronicle of a life-saving therapy, and the story of the family that endured and brought the therapy to life. This book is an affirmation of the power of science merged with the power of faith.”

―Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies

“A truly beautiful story of the courage of a family who made a gigantic leap of faith in science and health care, and in so doing, pushed medicine into the next frontier of what is possible…This book will allow patients and those who have lost hope to find new hope, inspiration, and beauty in the possibility of making the impossible possible.”

― Christian Barkey, CEO of Barkey GmbH

“Emily impressed me with her fortitude, confident, and nonchalant attitude. The story of how she and her parents persevered through the challenges they faced is deeply meaningful to me and I know will be truly inspirational for others.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Leukemia Survivor

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Excerpt Chapter 7: I Love Lucy

September 21st, 2020|Excerpts|

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing journal entries and excerpts from the book! We all love Lucy! Emily still carries her around like a baby and Lucy is just fine with that because she likes to be held and cuddled. When we first got her she was a little hesitant and scared, but now she loves to explore and play. She chews EVERYTHING. Her favorite thing to chew on is toes, which Emily thinks is pretty funny. Lucy also goes crazy when [...]

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